Tammy Duckworth on Wednesday became first Thai-American woman elected to US Congress after beating freshman Republican US Rep Joe Walsh in Illinois’ 8th congressional district.
With 41 percent of the votes counted, Duckworth led Walsh 56.3 percent to 43.7 percent. The race was initially called by NBC. AP has also called the race for Duckworth.
Ladda or Tammy, 44, born to Thai mother and American father, has an exceptional life. She almost lost her life during an attack in Iraq in 2004. She has served as commander of a Blackhawk Helicopter Company.
US Embassy in Bangkok said in its website that Ladda also flew more than 200 combat hours as a Blackhawk pilot. It was during a mission in November 2004 in Iraq that a rocket-propelled grenade struck the cockpit of her helicopter and exploded; Duckworth suffered grave injuries, and lost both her legs.
The injury changed her life, she said. Later on, she ran for a seat in the US Congress in 2006. She narrowly lost.
The volatile race between Walsh, a Tea Party favorite, and Duckworth was one of the nation’s most closely watched congressional battles. Nearly $6.6 million in outside spending was reported in the contest, including $2.7 million worth of ads attacking Duckworth poured into the race by conservative super PACs in recent weeks, Huffington Post online reported.
Polls leading up to the election showed Duckworth holding at least a 10-point lead over Walsh as both campaigns went intensely negative in the race approached its conclusion.
Walsh repeatedly attacked Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran and double amputee, for speaking “too much” about her military service and implied that she wasn’t a “true hero.” He also attracted national attention last month when he stated that he was opposed to abortion, including in circumstances when the life of the mother is at stake.
Duckworth, for her part, went negative in an ad released late last month that criticized the Illinois congressman over $117,00 in back child support this ex-wife alleged he owed in a now-settled lawsuit. Walsh brought his children into the matter as his 25-year-old son Joe Jr. appeared in a television ad urging Duckworth to pull the “deadbeat dad” ad from the airwaves.